Summary: Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples on three different occasions, but He reveals Himself to us every time we look up to HIim and talk to Him.
Text: “This is the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead” (v. 14).
The first time Jesus appeared to his disciples was the evening of Resurrection Day. This took place in Jerusalem or someplace near Jerusalem where the disciples were gathered behind closed doors. “…the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews…” (John 20:19).
Eleven of the disciples gathered together to try to console or comfort one another. Thomas was not present in the room on this occasion. Their Shepherd was no longer with them and they were like wandering sheep.
They were without direction, without leadership and not knowing their future. They feared what the Jews might do to them because they followed and believed in Jesus whereas the Jews were against Him because of whom He clamed to be, the way He did things and the message He taught.
At this time, Jesus said to them “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). He said this to calm their nerves knowing that the fear that was in their heart. Also, He wanted them to believe that it was really Him.
After Jesus showed them the nail holes in His hands and the wound in His side, they were convinced that this was the same Jesus they had known before. He was not dead, but he was alive. Jesus also breathed the Holy Spirit upon them and commissioned them to go out into the world and continue the mission He had begun.
When the disciples met later with Thomas, they told Thomas that they had seen the Lord. Thomas was not convinced and said, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).
Eight days later, or the next Lord’s Day, all the disciples, including Thomas, were together in the room, with the doors closed. This second meeting was somewhere in the surrounding area of Jerusalem when Jesus appeared in the room. Again, Jesus said, “Peace to you!” (John 20:26).
Jesus knew Thomas and what his thoughts concerning His being alive. Without waiting for Thomas to say anything, Jesus said, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:21). Thomas’ eyes were opened and he believed.
The third time Jesus appeared to the disciples was not on the Lord’s Day, but instead, a weekday. Simon, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other disciples were together when Simon decided to go fishing. He said, “I am going fishing” and the other disciples said, “We are going with you also” (John 21:3).
Although the disciples had been commissioned to continue Jesus’ mission, the time was not now. In other words, Jesus was still here so their mission would not start until Jesus ascended up into the heavens.
In the meanwhile, time was valuable and at some point in the future they would have to give account of their time, so they chose not to stand around doing nothing. Instead, they chose to do what they were accustomed to doing and that was fishing. This was their means of income. Fishing was their occupation.